Our stage critic rounds up his top four theatre and dance performances of 2019. Catch the last shows of their run this year, or check out new offerings by his stand-out directors and choreographers.
1. Dionysos Stadt
Directed by Christopher Rüping for Münchener Kammerspiele/Theatertreffen.
By hour nine of Rüping’s 10-hour Dionysian festival at this year’s Theatertreffen, a tribute to the theatre of antiquity, a few seats had become vacant but the crowd largely showed no signs of tiring. Euphoria was in the air: The 34-year-old director had pulled off something truly special.
Also by the director:
It Can’t Happen Here | Deutsches Theater, Mitte. Dec 30 (with English surtitles).
2. I Love You, Goodbye (The Brexit Edition)
Directed by Gob Squad for HAU.
In a year with two Brexits and also, paradoxically, no Brexits, the British-German performance collective Gob Squad appropriately unleashed a six-hour cultural love story that shuns patriotism and flag-waving in favour of something far more essential to the group’s national identities: food. And with a third Brexit set for January 31, Gob Squad are serving up a fresh instalment.
I Love You, Goodbye (The Brexit Edition) | HAU, Kreuzberg. Jan 31.
3. A Report to an Academy
Directed by Oliver Frljić for Gorki.
The Bosnian director approached Kafka’s short story about a monkey who “civilises” himself to freedom with unflinching violence, a biting societal critique and a profound understanding of the much-interpreted writer’s oeuvre – not to mention an actual live baboon on stage.
A Report to an Academy | Maxim-Gorki-Theater, Mitte. Dec 19 (with English surtitles).
4. Half Life
Choreographed by Sharon Eyal for Staatsballett Berlin/Komische Oper.
For all the cries of the Staatsballett becoming too “modern” under the new artistic directorship of Johannes Öhman and Sasha Waltz, the Israeli choreographer Sharon Eyal’s Half Life held its ground and drowned out the sceptics with a sensational post-apocalyptic techno-workout that was greeted with thunderous standing ovations at every performance.
Also by the choreographer:
Strong | Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Mitte. Dec 18 and 19.